In my capacity as outside observer, I’ve fired Mike Woodson more often than George Steinbrenner canned Billy Martin. I count at least four times I’ve done the (theoretical) deed, including this rant of February 2008, and even after the epic Celtics series I offered this vote of non-confidence. But here’s where I rally to my punching bag’s defense.
Writing for SI.com, Chris Mannix contends Woodson remains on the ol’ hot seat even after leading the Hawks to the East’s No. 4 seed, and I don’t believe that’s the case. Rick Sund, the general manager these past 11 months, has said repeatedly that his goal for his new team was to return to the playoffs with a better record, and Woodson has more than managed that. The Hawks improved 10 games without adding a starter. (Indeed, they lost sixth man Josh Childress to Greece.)
There were many times over Woodson’s first four seasons when I didn’t feel he was the man for this team, but I don’t feel that way now. Yes, I’m flip-flopping, but here the choice is either consistency for consistency’s sake or fairness to a man who has persevered through the dark days and who has, judging by the Hawks’ dominating performance in Game 1, playing at an ever-higher level.
So I’m sounding the warning: Lay off Woodson. I’ve got the man’s back. And I’ve had it … oh, since about November 2008.
The fallout from Game 1
How ’bout that Heat, huh? Well, Greg Stoda of the Palm Beach Post believes the team just quit, and certainly seven fourth-quarter points wouldn’t seem the product of a fully engaged club. Dave Hyde of the Sun-Sentinel doesn’t feel Miami has much to prove in this series, which would appear fortunate given that in Game 1 the Heat dropped hints it doesn’t really belong in the postseason.
Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
We knew this already, but Scott Howard-Cooper of SI.com says it again: The Heat must get points from someone other than Dwyane Wade. And John Hollinger of ESPN.com believes this series could be over quickly if matters don’t change.
Afterward, Josh Smith trotted out the old line about everyone picking against the Hawks. That’s not quite true. I picked them. (Then again, I’m wrong so often I probably don’t count.)
Mike Moreau of Scouts, Inc. picked the Hawks in six, same as I did. Paul Forrester of SI.com picked them. Charley Rosen of FoxSports.com did, too. And so did Sean Deveney of Sporting News Today. And six of ESPN.com’s 10 analysts went with the Hawks, which isn’t exactly a sign of disrespect in a 4-versus-5 series.
So, a word to J-Smoove: Go easy with that us-against-the-world stuff. A goodly chunk of the world likes your team’s chances.Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
Another back who can motor? Just the Tech ticket
For Sporting News Today, Dave Curtis identified five college players who’d had good springs and who could be headed for better autumns. One was Georgia Tech A-back Marcus Wright, who had as many carries in the spring game (four) as he did all last season. Think of Wright as an even smaller, even faster Roddy Jones. Then recall that Jones, who’s still around, gained 214 yards against Georgia. Then, if you’re a Tech fan, smile even wider.
Georgia Tech’s Gani Lawal will enter the NBA draft but will not hire an agent, which means he could return to school next season. If you go by NBAdraft.net’s 2009 mock, which has him going 27th overall, he should return to school. But I keep hearing that Tech folks aren’t expecting him back.
OK, OK. Where’s all the (NFL) draft stuff?
Thanks for asking. Because there was no way to do justice to both the Hawks and the NFL draft, the minds behind Buzz — actually, there’s only one, and it’s of dubious worth — decided that, just this once, we’d do two in one week. An Extra Special Draft Buzz will be upcoming Thursday morning, so as to capture the very latest in what figures to be a newsworthy countdown.
So check back then, and have your mocks at the ready. Deal? Deal.